Worship God -- It's a good thing

Some time ago I signed this e-petition. While I didn't necessarily agree with all of the wording I did and still do agree with the main thrust of it (we should not be forcing the practice of a specific religion in our schools).

Today I've had an email pointing to the government's response to the petition.

The Government remains committed to the provision of collective worship in schools and recognises its valuable contribution to the spiritual and moral development of pupils.
That's nice. How about giving some idea of how it aids children's "moral development"? And, more to the point, what is this business of "spiritual development"? Shouldn't "moral development" be in some sort of philosophy class?
This is a view which is shared by many parents who still expect their children to understand the meaning of worship whether they hold a faith or not.
Why the need to practice a specific form of worship so as to understand the general idea of worship? Why the need to perform a specific instance of something to understand the class of something?
We believe that it is important that collective worship should provide the opportunity for pupils to worship God as well as to consider spiritual and moral issues and to explore their own beliefs.
(Emphasis is mine). Note that pupils should have the opportunity to worship God? Note that there's no place for deciding what god, or gods? Note that there appears to be no place to consider the idea of there being a god that cares about being worshipped or even wants to be worshipped?
Collective worship can play a valuable role in developing community spirit, promoting a common ethos and shared values.
And the worship of God has what to do with "developing community spirit", promoting a "common ethos" and "shared values"? Aren't shared values where sets overlap?
The Government believes there is sufficient flexibility in the law to allow both Christian and other forms of worship.
Way to avoid the point of the petition!
The Government respects the right of parents to raise their children in accordance with their own faith and this is why parents have the right to withdraw their children from collective worship.
Note how they talk about "faith" but don't mention anything about no-faith? Note also that, despite talking about "common ethos" and "shared values" and "developing community spirit", they're really promoting a "follow this or bugger off" approach?
From September 2007, pupils in school sixth forms will also be able to withdraw themselves from collective worship. The Government believes that for younger pupils, it is appropriate and practical for parents to decide on whether to withdraw. The Government believes this strikes the right balance between the requirements of the law and accommodating the wishes of parents.
In other words, we're going to do everything we can to promote faith and, generally, a particular kind of faith, in a way that's very similar to spamming. It's an opt-out list.


  1. "Why the need to perform a specific instance of something to understand the class of something?"

    That's certainly a very good way to learn things, especially as a kiddie.

    One other question, avoiding your "opt-out" objection for now, is the extent to which worship in schools can be conducted by someone catering for many different faiths - but then again I doubt the average state-school can afford a suitably qualified chaplain...

  2. Thing is, you don't teach politics by having children join a particular political party. Neither do you teach them a sport by having them support a specific team.

    As for being able to afford a suitably qualified chaplain... one option is to do away with "collective worship" altogether. I think it's probably the most sensible option.

  3. Hello Dave. Great post. There is a reason for compulsory collective worship in schools which the Government will never ever tell you about. Read comments posted at the bottom of this:

  4. I take it you actually mean this section of the page?

    It's a little short on actual evidence, don't you think?

  5. How much more evidence do you need?

  6. Well, some evidence that the Collect for the Sovereign as detailed, for example, in the book of common prayer somehow engenders this aura of mystery might be a start.

  7. Well, the whole thing seems to hinge on "It goes without saying that an important part of this reverence and veneration includes saying prayers for the Queen and her family" and that seems to be offered as personal.

    It shouldn't "go without saying", should it?

  8. "that seems to be offered as personal." should read:

    "that seems to be offered as personal opinion".

  9. Aren't unsubstantiated personal opinions what you expect from a load of envious socialists?

  10. I found the links quite compelling evidence.

  11. While I do allow people to leave comments without needing to have a registered account on Blogger, I would appreciate it if people leaving comments actually identified themselves in some way.

    You don't need to use your real name of you fear using it, but I'd appreciate it if you used some sort of unique identifier. Just use "Other" and provide a name.

  12. Anon said: I found the links quite compelling evidence.

    That's great. Fancy telling us what the actual reason that the government isn't telling us about is and why the links on that page are compelling evidence for it?

  13. I think I am beginning to understand why hardly anyone posts comments on your blog.

  14. I fail to see why you need to try a petty insult when all I've done is ask about the reasoning and your interpretation of the evidence.

    Where's the harm in that?

  15. And just to clear up the issue of apparent lack of comments: It's because few people actually read it.

    Feel free to invent reasons why, but please note that I'm not at all bothered by it.

  16. Just teasing Dave. I was just surprised by your response. When people ask about "the reasoning and the interpretation", it tends to kill debate dead. This is because a blog is normally about courting public opinion, not about recreating your local court of law.

    Anyway, have you heard the breaking news?

    I'm hearing a terrorist, waiting for the Queen with an axe, has been jumped by the police.

  17. Good to hear it was just a joke.

    It's not so much about trying to turn this into a court of law as it is about understanding someone's reasoning on a matter. I'm sure you don't simply accept any argument as given without showing some interest in a person's reasoning for it and, unsurprisingly, I don't too.

    Hence the reason why I'm (genuinely) interested in your interpretation of the evidence (and I mean evidence in a more scientific sense, I guess) presented via the article you pointed at.

    Asking for reasoning only really kills debate if the person offering an argument has nothing more than the words they had to offer. A well-reasoned argument will have, well, reasoning behind it. Right?

    Got a source for that news?

  18. Wrong. I do accept some arguments as given without hearing lots of evidence for a person's reasoning. Let me give you an example.

    Dave: "I like chocolate digestive biscuits".

    Are you seriously suggesting that I am going to ask why you like biscuits? Are you seriously suggesting that you would have a completely well-reasoned argument - when it is based largely on taste and emotion? Enough said. Hang on, knowing your blog, you probably do have a well-reasoned argument for liking chocolate digestive biscuits.

    Anyway, the article was about religion maintaining the class system. I thought it interesting and the Government would hardly shout about it, would they? Get my point.

    I'd be interested (genuinely) to know your opinion but please - don't ask for any more evidence, quotations and reasoned proof.

  19. Sadly your example doesn't work because the example claim given isn't anywhere near as extraordinary as the claim apparently made in the article that was linked to.

    If I tell you I like chocolate digestive biscuits it makes sense that you accept it because it's really not that extraordinary a claim. Moreover, it tells you nothing of any real consequence. On the other hand, if I tell you that I have evidence of a government conspiracy that involves our schools, what then? Would you just accept what I tell you or would you ask for the reasoning and evidence behind the claim.

    Also, please note that I was asking about evidence, not proof.

    I gave you my opinion: it appeared to be long on claims and assertion and very short on evidence. Hence the reason I'm interested in why you think it gives very compelling evidence.

    An extraordinary argument that rests on "It goes without saying" isn't something I tend to find very compelling.

  20. Tea, anyone?

  21. Trivial or not, statements about Dave and chocolate digestives can be substantiated.

    Good luck with the conspiracy...